Veggie primer

Cultivating your own edibles is easy and fun


Stepping stones are Tuffits from Cottage Gardens of Petaluma (707/778-8025).

Thomas J. Story

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My first foray into vegetable gardening started with two plants in paper cups, given to me as a gift. Because I have no "land" to grow anything on (I live in a second-story apartment), I put these two little guys ― a tomato plant and a pea plant ― in the cup holders of my car. I watered them with my water bottle and parked in the sun every day, thinking I had invented cup-holder gardening. But two weeks later, my plants didn't look so good. They needed help, fast.

Fortunately, I was able to find space for them in Sunset's test garden. I also enlisted the help of some staff experts in choosing and ordering seeds and seedlings of other vegetables. I chose seedlings in 2- and 4-inch pots of the following: basil (one plant), bell peppers (five), eggplants (two), 'Eight Ball' squash (two), green beans (five), sage (one), tomatoes (one), and yellow squash (one). I planted carrots from seed because ― like corn and peas ― they don't transplant well. The garden took 1 ½ hours to plant.

It was definitely a learning experience. Once, I turned the hose on at 11 a.m., intending to turn it off 30 minutes later. But at 10 that night, I arose from my couch in shock, like a mother who'd forgotten to pick up her kids from school: I'd left the hose on. Flashlight in hand, I returned to find my garden soaked, but the rest of the test garden was mercifully spared of flooding.



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